Home Entrepreneurship What College Doesn’t Teach You About Being an Entrepreneur

What College Doesn’t Teach You About Being an Entrepreneur

by Olufisayo
College Student

For quite a few decades, a college education has been the gold standard for someone who wants to achieve success in life. However, many people are starting to realize that college doesn’t always prepare you for career success.

In particular, if you plan to be an entrepreneur, college is likely not going to teach you the most valuable lessons you need to learn. Here are a few of the top things college doesn’t teach you about being an entrepreneur.

How to Fail

We’re all hearing the term “growth mindset” everywhere these days. Basically, the model of learning information, taking a test, and being done with that topic is wrong in many ways.

Thanks to Carol Dweck’s flagship book “Mindset,” plenty of people recognize that there’s enormous value in an ability to fail. Students are capable of much more if they learn to develop what she calls a growth mindset.

With a growth mindset, you learn how to fail. Instead of believing that failure is totally bad and should be avoided, failure is a wonderful learning tool.

Entrepreneurs need the ability to fail in order to eventually succeed. The key is learning how to fail well and to use those failures to improve in your next effort. College just doesn’t provide that.

College courses are usually about showing up, getting information from lectures and textbooks, and taking a few exams or writing papers to prove what you know. Too often, what’s lacking is a push from professors to actually develop your skills or knowledge in an area.

Students are so used to believing that a less-than-perfect score is a bad thing when really it’s a chance to learn and grow. You’ll need that growth mindset and ability to fail if you’re going to be an entrepreneur.


Many college courses focus on what the professor or instructor has decided is best. What do they want you to do? How will they assess your learning?

There isn’t much room left in a college curriculum for fostering creativity. As an entrepreneur, you’ll need to be a fount of ideas. It’s important to develop your “idea muscle” and be able to brainstorm tens or even hundreds of ideas in order to land on just one good idea.

Successful entrepreneurs must be able to create solutions to people’s problems. That often requires outside-the-box thinking, because the best business ideas won’t always be obvious.


Sure, there may be opportunities in a college setting for developing as a leader. Perhaps joining a service organization or serving on student government will give you a little taste of what it’s like to lead a team.

But overall, college doesn’t produce a whole lot of leaders. Most students are trained to follow their teachers, their coaches, and their bosses. They’re focused inwardly, on how to be successful themselves.

As an entrepreneur, you need to learn how to truly step up and make the tough decisions that help a business thrive. This will require looking to serve your team as a leader. You can’t merely follow the orders of someone higher up, nor should you pass down orders to your team like a dictator.

How to Stand Out

College is really more about fitting into the standards and expectations of your peers and instructors. Unfortunately, to be a successful entrepreneur, you really need to be willing to break the mold and go off in your own direction sometimes.

Traditional education, in general, doesn’t reward people for being different. That’s why there are standardized rubrics educators use to assign grades to your papers and projects.

The “follow the herd” mentality of most educational institutions really hurts people who want to be entrepreneurs. They’re not encouraged to stand out and stand above the rest of their peers.

As an entrepreneur, you have to stand out above your competition, or you’ll crash and burn.

Grades Don’t Mean Much

College students are still trapped in the old paradigm that working hard and doing what’s expected will get them a good grade. Good grades are supposed to lead to success, right?

Wrong. Grades in school don’t mean much in the world of work, especially for an entrepreneur. In fact, people who are very successful in school often fail once they’re out in the real world.


Becoming an entrepreneur requires many traits that aren’t really developed by a traditional college education. There’s much more value in qualities like effective failure, perseverance, and creativity when pursuing entrepreneurship.

Danielle Kunkle Roberts is a founding partner at Boomer Benefits and a Medicare Supplement Accredited Advisor. She and her team help thousands of baby boomers learn the ropes regarding Medicare every year.

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